The NCAA tournament isn’t just an opportunity for college basketball players to lead their teams to postseason glory.
It’s also a chance for those looking to play beyond their college days to make a major statement—and some have done just that, with NBA teams hearing loud and clear.
In an interview with The New York Times, Jonathan Givony of the scouting website Draft Express said there is “meaning” to how players perform against the “high-level competition” of the tournament.
Whether they strengthened their already-prime NBA draft stock or used a strong postseason to make a name for themselves, the following players saw their draft standing rise in the NCAA tournament.
Michigan point guard Trey Burke may have had a “monster year” according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports—he was named National Player of the Year by the AP—but he shored up his weaknesses in the NCAA tournament.
Helin notes Burke already demonstrated strong shooting and an ability to run the Wolverines’ offense, but his defense improved markedly in the tournament to the point it actually “has helped his cause” in the upcoming draft, if he declares.
Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams may not have been able to lead the Orange past Michigan in the Final Four, but he still looks strong coming out of the tournament. So strong, in fact, that Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk told NBC Sports that he may be the player who most helped his draft stock in the postseason.
Carter-Williams had excellent skills going into March Madness, and Dauster said his “decision-making” caught up during the tournament, aiding his draft standing.
But the player who may benefit the most from strong tournament play is Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early. The 6’8” junior led the Shockers to a surprising Final Four run.
Strong postseason play especially affects small-school players like Early, as these teams often don’t play elite competition until the tournament. Givony said to The Times the tournament “can affect them a little bit more since you just don’t know if they’re legitimate or not.”